Second asylum boat arrival within 24 hours

July 29, 2012

Christmas Island

Another boat of asylum seekers has arrived on Australian waters. Picture: Daniel Wilkins Source: PerthNow

A SECOND boatload of asylum seekers was intercepted on Saturday, Border Protection Command says.

A vessel carrying 49 people was intercepted north-west of the Cocos Keeling Islands on Saturday night.

It was intercepted by ACV Hervey Bay after being detected by a RAAF maritime patrol craft.

The passengers were transferred to Australian government authorities on Cocos Island and will be sent to Christmas Island for health, security and identity checks.

Earlier the same day, a government patrol boat intercepted a vessel carrying 15 passengers and two crew east of Browse Island off the Kimberley coastline.

They were transferred to Broome initially and are being sent to Darwin detention centre for security, health and identity checks.

And Sri Lanka says it’s netted a boatload of people bound for Australia, bringing the total number of detained would-be illegal immigrants to 700 since May.

Sri Lanka’s navy arrested a boatload of people heading to Australia and raised the number of would-be illegal immigrants detained this month to a record 500, an official said today.

A fishing trawler carrying 31 people was intercepted off the island’s western coast on Saturday, and another 20 were arrested on shore ready to board the vessel, the navy official said.

“We had the highest number of arrests this month,” said the official, who asked not to be named.

“We stopped eight trawlers off the eastern coast and three off the western coast as they set off for Australia.”

The official said the figures were in contrast to 200 people arrested between May and June, and that the July arrests were the highest on record during a one-month period.

Most of the would-be illegal immigrants had paid up to 300,000 rupees ($A2,220) as an advance for the perilous journey and were to give an additional 400,000 ($A2,895) on reaching Australian shores, according to the official.

The boat people have been handed over to the police Criminal Investigations Department for investigations, the official said, adding that most of them wanted to claim political asylum in Australia.

Opposition border protection spokesman Michael Keen said the fact the boat carrying 15 passengers arrived so close to the Australian mainland yesterday before it was intercepted highlights how much pressure Border Protection Command is under.

The island is 160 kilometres north-west of the WA coast.

“With the resources at their disposal and relentless nature of illegal boat arrivals, it is increasingly difficult for our Border Protection forces to continue mopping up after Labor’s failed policies,” Mr Keenan said in a statement today.

The Federal Government has set up an independent committee to consider the asylum seeker issue after it failed to win Coalition support for its Malaysia solution.

Coalition members oppose the option of sending people to Malaysia on the grounds it is not a signatory to the United Nations refugee convention, instead favouring a return to offshore processing in Nauru and other countries which have signed the convention.



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